Breaking the Cycle of Food Waste
Jude Medeiros
Jude Medeiros
Regional Vice President,
On-site Service Solutions,
K-12 Schools

Food waste is the third largest waste category in our landfills. Approximately 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes goes uneaten every year and ends up in landfills, according to data from the USDA. That’s nearly a third of all food produced.

This isn’t just a waste of money—it’s significantly harming our environment. When we waste food, we’re also wasting all of the water, labor and energy that went into growing and transporting it. Plus, as food decomposes in landfills, it generates methane, a greenhouse gas. If food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases which ultimately impacts climate change.

At a time when people in our own communities still face hunger, reducing wasted food is imperative. In California for example, food is the largest single source of waste comprising 15.5 percent of the state’s waste stream. More than six million tons of food is discarded each year, yet at the same time almost 2.3 million children in California go to bed hungry each night.

What can schools do to eliminate food waste?

  • Reduce food waste by encouraging students to consume it. Schools have had success making food more appealing to kids by giving cool, kid-friendly names and providing several healthy options at meals to ensure there’s something for everyone.
  • Recover wholesome, uneaten food and donate it to feed people in need. Rescuing food can make a major impact on those in need. Work with food recovery organizations such as the Campus Kitchens Project and the Food Recovery Network to learn how to safely rescue food and transport it to organizations that reach people in need.
  • Recycle discarded food for other uses including animal feed, compost, and energy generation. Start a simple campaign at school to get students, parents and the community involved.


Sodexo partners with our K-12 school partners and external organizations to share our industry experience and best practices to drive fundamental change on the issue of food waste. Over 4.7 million pounds of food has been donated by Sodexo through our partnerships with Food Recovery Network and Campus Kitchens Project.

BE[CA]USE, Think [CA]’s Waste Reduction Project is our commitment to raising awareness and changing behaviors to reduce food waste in our communities. Our goal is to help students, frontline staff, parents, and all others involved to understand the problem of food waste and how their personal behaviors play into the equation.

One comment on “Breaking the Cycle of Food Waste

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    Gregory Rodocker says:

    Very happy we are moving forward to address this issue of food waste. One of our schools is applying for “Green School” status and with Sodexo’s sustainability program we can help them achieve that goal.


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